College Jazz Ensemble Selected to Perform at Its First National Jazz Conference

by | Nov 28, 2017 | Dining, Arts & Entertainment

The College of the Canyons Jazz Ensemble ‘Just Jazz’ will be starting the New Year with a bang by heading to its first national convention. The award-winning ensemble will perform at the 9th annual Jazz Education Network (JEN) conference in Dallas, TX on January 3 through January 7, 2018.
The event represents the largest educational/performance conference in the global jazz community.
“This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity,” said Julie Lawson, the ensemble’s director. “Being selected to be showcased at a national convention is overwhelming.”
‘Just Jazz’ was selected to perform based on a live recording Lawson submitted from a recent concert.
At the JEN conference, the vocal jazz ensemble will perform a 50-minute set that will include a variety of tunes, such as songs composed by Al Jarreau, Thad Jones, Harry Connick Jr. and an Afro-Cuban arrangement of Simon & Garfunkel’s “Cecilia.”
Accompanied by Lawson, the team of 13 students will also travel with a professional rhythm section: Alex Nizzoli (piano), Emilio Terranova (bass) and Brijesh Pandya (drums).
“I am so thrilled and honored we have gotten the opportunity to perform with the best jazz educators from all over the country,” said Mike Ortiz, a ‘Just Jazz’ member.
Ortiz, who is a music education sophomore student at COC, says he enjoys the creativity that comes with performing with his fellow ‘Just Jazz’ members.
“It becomes more than just notes on a page,” said Ortiz. “We throw our own ideas and voices into it.”
‘Just Jazz’ has been a regular fixture at the Monterey Next Generation Jazz Festival, which has selected the ensemble to perform six times in the past seven years.
“The Monterey Next Generation Jazz Festival is a competitive festival and ‘Just Jazz’ has walked away with five awards over the years,” said Lawson.
Established by a group of jazz leaders in 2008, JEN was created to foster the jazz arts community through promoting performance, advancing education, and inspiring new audiences. Since then, JEN has grown to boast thousands of members across the nation and around the world.
“I’m so grateful for the ongoing support from Chancellor Dr. Dianne G. Van Hook, my colleagues Lori Marie Rios and Dr. Bernardo Feldman, my Dean, Dr. Carmen Dominguez, and the Patrons of the Performing Arts,” said Lawson. “Without their encouragement and generosity, this trip wouldn’t be possible.”
Those who wish to make a donation toward the group’s trip to the JEN Conference can do so through the COC Foundation.
Catch “Just Jazz” in action during “Jazz Tidings” at 6:30 and 8:30 p.m. Friday, Dec. 8 in the Dr. Dianne G. Van Hook University Center lobby.
Tickets are $20 for adults and $15 for students/seniors and will be available for purchase at the door.
For more information about ‘Just Jazz’ and the COC Music Department, visit


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